The Quran is certainly one of the most important texts in human history. But it wasn’t originally a text at all. When the Quran appeared in the seventh century, it was a vocal recital performed by an unlettered man named Muhammad. It remains an oral performance for Muslims all over the world to this day.
The Prophet’s Whistle is a study of the ancient, nonliterary features of the Quran, many of which are often overlooked by historians and the public. George Archer corrects this striking absence by using observations from the anthropologies of living oral cultures, the cognitive sciences of literacy, and the study of other dead oral cultures. The Prophet’s Whistle shows that the thought systems of the Quran are oral, through and through, but by the end of the life of its Prophet, the Quran likewise hints at a personal and cultural embrace of writing and the mindsets of literate people.
“This excellent and beautifully written book will generate excitement, delight, and, perhaps, some controversy. Reading it is an intellectual experience of a very high order. Archer explains that the fusion of orality and literacy in the ‘event of the Quran’ generates distinctive culture and meaning and, most importantly, belongs to all humanity. Warmly recommended to all world citizens.”—Todd Lawson, author, The Quran, Epic and Apocalypse
“Islamic and Qur’anic studies have not really grappled with serious considerations of orality, and the consequences of this argument are significant. The Prophet’s Whistle represents a new contribution.”—Lauren Osborne, Whitman College